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All photos courtesy of Qatar Museums

More than 120 works by renowned 20th Century artists Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti will be shown in Qatar for the first time next year.

The free exhibition runs from Feb. 23 to May 21, 2017 at the Doha Fire Station. It will be the first time that pieces by these artists will be exhibited in the Middle East, Qatar Museums said.

The collection includes paintings, sculptures, sketches and photographs, as well as interviews with the artists.

Fire Station

Chantelle D'mello

Fire Station

They will all be on display in the exhibition space of the converted old Civil Defense building on Wadi Al Sail.

The exhibition will include some major works by both artists spanning decades of their careers, such as Picasso’s Self Portrait (1901), Woman Throwing a Stone (1931) and The She Goat (1950).

Meanwhile, key pieces by Giacometti include Flower in Danger (1932), Tall Woman (1960) and Walking Man (1960).

In addition to the original works, there will also be some rare and fragile casts, newly-discovered drawings and photographic archives.

Finally, the exhibition will include some replicas of Giacometti’s works for visually impaired visitors to touch, QM said in a statement yesterday.

Qatar exhibition

The exhibition follows on the heels of a bigger version of the Picasso-Giacometti show, which is currently open to the public at the Musée National Picasso in Paris.

That display contains around 200 works across eight sections and runs until Feb. 5 next year, closing just two weeks before the Doha exhibition opens.

The pieces on display in Qatar are on loan mostly from the Musée National Picasso and the Fondation Giacometti, which are both based in Paris. There will also be other works borrowed from collections internationally.

Pablo Picasso's The Bathers


Pablo Picasso\’s The Bathers

The collection will be divided into six sections. Each will cover different aspects of each artist’s work – from their early pieces as young artists to more modern ones.

It will chart “the correspondences between their works, the influence of the surrealist movement, and the return to realism during the post-war period,” QM said.

Previously, experts at the two Paris galleries spent two years researching the links between the artists.

They found documents, notebooks and sketches showing that, despite a 20-year age difference, they shared personal moments with each other.

These ranged from their first meeting in the early 1930s until after the second World War.

Catherine Grenier, director of the Fondation Giacometti, curated the Doha exhibition along with associate curators Serena Bucalo-Mussely, also from the Fondation Giacometti, and Virginie Perdrisot from the Musee National Picasso-Paris.

Artists’ hub

This is the biggest exhibition to be hosted by the Fire Station since it opened in 2015 as a gallery. It also contains a café and studio space for emerging artists.

Previous exhibitions include work from those taking part in its Artists’ in Residence program, which is now in its second year.

Installation of the artwork at the Fire Station

Qatar Museums/Twitter

Installation of artwork at the Fire Station

Although the items on display in this exhibition will all be international loans, Qatar is rumored to have bought some of its own Picasso works.

In 2013, Picasso’s Child With Dove painting sold in London for $74.5 million and left the UK after 85 years there – reportedly to travel to Qatar.

Who’s planning on going to the exhibition? Thoughts?

All photos by Lesley Walker

Art that reflects multi-cultural identities, childhood memories, life in war-torn Syria and the connection Muslims feel with the Kaaba are among several pieces of work that debuted at the Doha Fire Station this week.

The exhibition is the result of nine months of work from 18 Qatar-based up-and-coming creatives who were part of the station’s inaugural artists in residence program.

The display, located in the center of the Garage Gallery, includes photography, sculptures and other pieces made from elements such as sand, concrete, resin, charcoal and wood.

It is open to the public until the end of November.

Fire station

Last year, the former Civil Defense headquarters in Wadi Al Sail was relaunched as a creative hub by Qatar Museums.

The station’s first big move was to bring aboard 18 artists, including 10 Qataris, to produce original work within the studios.

Those selected were given use of individual studio space which is open 24 hours a day, plus a QR4,000 monthly stipend.

Included in the program were weekly meet-ups with the other artists and mentoring sessions with established local and visiting international artists, QM said in a statement.

Hana Saleh Al-Saadi

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Hana Saleh Al-Saadi

A concrete sculpture, molded to resemble cinder blocks in an infinity shape by Hana Saleh Al-Saadi is the first work that visitors see as they enter the gallery.

Many of the other works reflect the changing landscape of the Middle East.

For example, Bahraini artist Othman Khunji’s five-piece installation, titled The Selfless Holy Ground, uses technologies including laser cutting, 3-D printing and waterjet engraving to create works that examine the changes taking place in Makkah.

Othman Khunji

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Othman Khunji

And Syrian artist Waseem Marzouqi’s painting Fighter Jet incorporates symbols and diagrams to portray the conflict in Syrian, juxtaposed with the ongoing construction in his now-home city of Doha.

Sand rug

One of the highlights of the exhibition is Shifting Identities – a 7m x 4m installation made from Qatar sand that has been dyed with pigment from India and designed to look like a carpet.

For artist Emelina Soares, the work is a comment on her mixed heritage, reflecting her Indian ethnicity, Portuguese ancestry but birth and childhood in Qatar.

Emelina Soares - Shifting Identities

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Emelina Soares – Shifting Identities

Speaking to Doha News, she said five garbage cans full of sand were used to make the rug, which took a full 36 hours.

She added that she wants visitors to interact with the artwork:

“I want people to walk over it – to move the sand and the patterns which reflects my identities also shifting,” she said.

Soares, who works for Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar and is also studying part-time for a Master’s in museum and gallery practice at University College London Qatar, said she had been inspired to make the rug after a visit to India.

Keen to develop her skills, she plans to apply for other residencies abroad, she added.

Ghanim the Winner

Also on display is work from photographer Sara Al-Obaidly, another Qatar artist of mixed heritage.

She said she was moved by the determination and strength of her cousin Ghanim Al Mufta and created a series of five portraits of him showing off his varied sporting achievements, under the title Ghanim The Winner.

Sara Al-Obaidly - Ghanim the Winner

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Sara Al-Obaidly – Ghanim the Winner

Al-Obaidly chose one of him in his diving gear to showcase digitally at the Fire Station exhibition.

Speaking to Doha News, the photographer said she is about to diversify her skills into movie-making, having won a $30,000 grant from Doha Film Institute to create the feature film Coming of Age, about her British mother Maureen.

Al-Obaidly has teamed up with an experienced British scriptwriter to write and develop the film over the coming 10 months, which will tell the story of her 17-year-old mother who left the UK in 1963 and hitchhiked around the world with a friend.

“She ended up in the Himalayas, and she had a dream to visit the Middle East. Mum was a mod, she has these amazing stories from when she was younger, she was a very inspiring woman in the 1960s.

The story is about her younger self, based on fact but elaborated,” Al-Obaidly said.

The future

During Thursday’s launch, QM Chairperson Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani toured the exhibition and met the artists.

The Fire Station opened last March after the interior of the building was stripped and repurposed to create galleries, art spaces, and studios with a raw, industrial and minimalist vibe.

There are artists’ studios over five floors, while the former garage for the fire trucks has been transformed into a gallery.

The residency program for nurturing Qatar-based talent is one of the main features of the center.

A total of 152 artists, including 38 Qataris, have applied for the next round of residencies and a jury is currently selecting the final 18 for the second residency which will start in September, Khalid Al-Obaidly, director of the artist in residence program, told Doha News.

This should coincide with the planned opening for the annex of the complex, which includes an eatery called Café #999, a cinema, workshop space and an art supply shop.

Fire Station opening 2015

Chantelle D'mello

Fire Station opening 2015

Improvements will be made to the structure and content of the next wave of residencies, which will be “in a new spirit,” of greater support for emerging creative talent in the country, Al-Obaidly said.

“There are a lot of artists here (in Qatar) and we are creating an inspiration for them with the Fire Station.

Sheikha Mayassa has been trying to inspire young artists – to support them and develop their artwork and the art scene here in Doha,” he added.

Do you plan to check out the exhibition? Thoughts?


Qatar is planning to build five new, state-of-the-art fire stations around the country, starting with a station at the Pearl-Qatar

Construction on the station started in December, but a groundbreaking ceremony for the $6.9 million (QR25 million) project was held yesterday, United Development Company said in a statement. The station is expected to be up and running early next year.

Currently, the Pearl relies on emergency services from West Bay, which take an average time of five to 10 minutes to respond, Ibrahim al Sulaiti, United Development Company CEO said, as reported by the Qatar Tribune. He added:

“The new station will reduce response time to areas at The Pearl to less than three minutes, meeting the highest international standards of time.”

The new station would also presumably help emergency services reach residents more quickly because they would not have to fight traffic going into the island, a concern raised after last weekend’s hours-long backup

In the planning stages are new fire stations at Mesaieed, Wakrah, Lusail and Thumama, Brigadier Abdullah Mohammed Al-Suwaidi, director-general of the Ministry of Interior’s Civil Defense Department, told the newspaper during yesterday’s events.


Credit: Photo by Omar Chatriwala